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U18s - Bears Strike the Perfect Pitch to Convincingly Defeat LOWCA at Home

Updated: Feb 27

The U18s kicked off their first home game of the season against LOWCA in Round 3 of the BARLA National Cup. The game had been threatened with cancellation after a heavy downpour overnight had left some softer patches on the field. After a late pitch inspection, the referee agreed that the game could go ahead. This was all down to the hard work and commitment from parents, coaches, players, and committee members who did everything possible to ensure the pitch was playable to get the game on that day.

The opening exchanges were physical, and both teams were quite conservative in possession as they adjusted to playing on a very heavy pitch and figuring each other out, as these teams had never faced each other before. LOWCA had the benefit of a few refereeing decisions and were able to pin Ashton on their line for a sustained period of time. The Ashton defence held up well, and all the lads worked tirelessly to keep LOWCA out.

Ormshaw was tested at full-back with a few spiralling kicks, but he showed composure to deal with them under pressure and kick-start Ashton's attack out of yardage. At around 9 minutes, Ashton made their first break of the game down the right edge to put them in good field position for the first time in the game. Green with a silky inside ball found Ashley, who pushed deep into LOWCA territory but was stopped short. Broderick then scooted from dummy half but was deemed to have knocked on as he reached for the line. The signs were starting to show that Ashton was getting a foothold in this arm-wrestle.

A few minutes later, Green made a brilliant break and went on a solo run for 40m before releasing a pass to Hickey, who was unlucky not to score as he was stopped just short of the line. Great play again by The Bears as they continued to keep chipping away at the LOWCA defence.

With 15 minutes played and with neither team yet to score, it took a huge shot from Cottington to force a turnover of possession and gift Ashton a golden opportunity deep in LOWCA half. Within a couple of plays, Cottington then capitalised by crashing over the LOWCA line to break the deadlock and put Ashton into the lead. Broderick kicked the conversion, and the score was 6-0 to the hosts.

Within 5 minutes of their first try, Ashton was unlucky not to score again. Ormshaw carved LOWCA wide open with a jinking run. On the next play, Ashton moved the ball quickly through hands to the right, and Broderick found Lowton on the wing, but the pass was deemed forward. Ashton was dominating on both sides of the ball but hadn't managed to convert this to many points, and the game was still very much in the balance.

There was another period of sustained pressure from LOWCA, who was clearly on the right side of the penalty count, and Ashton had to pull out all the stops in defence to keep the opposition to nil.

The last 5 minutes of the half were very stop/start with injuries and penalties for both teams.

With the last play of the half, Ashton scored a very well-deserved try after all their efforts so far in the game. Cottington did exceptionally well to control a loose pass on his shoestrings; he then powered laterally across the field and drove towards the corner. The ball moved through hands at speed before Wheeler attacked the ball on a defence-splitting line; he stood up his defender and then beat him at the line with footwork to score. 10-0 to Ashton at the break.


Ashton returned to the field after the break with a look of steel about them, determined to put the game to bed as quickly as possible while they had the momentum. Straight from the kick-off, Hickey forced a knock-on and gave Ashton possession on the LOWCA 10m line. Strong drives from Mather and Aaron set The Bears up for a play in front of the sticks. Green switched play with a reverse pass to Cottington, who scored under the sticks. Broderick converted, and Ashton led 16-0.

Ashton scored again from the resulting KO. Aaron mystified the LOWCA defence by bursting through a gap tighter than the shorts on the new Ashton kit and made a good distance down the LOWCA right. Aaron passed to Ormshaw, who put on the afterburners to commit the fullback and then found the supporting Hill, who scored in the corner. The 20-point lead on the scoreboard was now more reflective of The Bears' dominance in the game.

After 10 mins of dominance from Ashton, LOWCA finally got some possession in The Bears' half, but they couldn't break through. Ashton responded with the best move of the game so far. Aaron made another break down the left side to lay the platform. Broderick scooted and tore through the LOWCA defence to make 30m before he was caught. Mather took a strong carry, and then Green sprinted cross-field to stretch the tiring LOWCA defence. Green expertly found the supporting Ormshaw, who passed to Lowton, who scored by sliding in at the corner. Outstanding play from The Bears.

Ashton had the wind in the sails now and seemed to be scoring on every possession. Green blazed through the centre of the field on a solo run. Green committed the fullback, who was rooted to the spot as he passed to the industrious Dale, who scored to round off a fine debut in the amber and black. LOWCA struggled to keep a lid on their emotions, and there was a coming together of both sets of players, which resulted in a yellow card for Cottington. Broderick added the 2 points from the conversion.

Ashton had a couple of opportunities to extend their lead but were denied on both occasions. Hill was denied for a close call on a forward pass, and Aaron's offload was intercepted as he attempted to release the ball when he was close to the LOWCA try line.

Just as Ashton was about to welcome Cottington back to the field, they were unlucky to see another one of their players sent to the sin-bin when Dale was shown a yellow card for not being square at marker, which looked a harsh call.

After another sustained period of possession, fuelled predominantly by repeat sets from penalties, LOWCA finally picked up a consolation try. The conversion is missed and Ashton take the victory 30-4 and power into the next round of the National Cup.


Final Score: 30-4

Man of the Match: George Green


Match Photo Gallery (Photos courtesy of Mike Crompton)

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